Okay, I’ll be honest. I haven’t seen nearly as much of the Redbirds the last week or so. I’m not a fair weather fan so much as I’m simply a sore loser. In all fairness, the games I have seen lately have been excruciating. Adam Freaking Kennedy playing in the outfield two days in a row? I think La Russa may have quit on his team as much as they have quit on him.
As I said from the first column this year though, we weren’t really supposed to be good anyway. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year and that’s basically what it became. The real trick now is for the Cards to make something of that rebuilding year. The front office left this year’s team swinging in the wind when the trade deadline came and went. They said they didn’t want to trade a young player for a rental. I’m fine with that, but they better pony up in the off season because the Cardinal faithful are a little antsy not going to the playoffs two years in a row.
The biggest need for the off season will be in the middle infield. The aforementioned Adam Kennedy really has to go. The guy’s been the biggest suck that ever sucked a suck since he got here, so they’re just going to have to take a loss on the final year of that insane contract and get a decent second baseman. There are a few guys in AAA that might fit, but it appears management really doesn’t think they’re ready. Maybe it’s time to resign Aaron Miles and stick him at the position once and for all, defense be damned.
Shortstop needs a makeover, too. Izturis was better than I expected this year, but it’s really hard when your middle infield hits worse than several of your pitchers. Brendan Ryan doesn’t appear he’s going to pan out, so they’ll have to look elsewhere. I really wouldn’t mind another year or two of Edgar Renteria, even though he’s probably on the downside of his career. Kahlil Greene might be worth a shot if they could pry him away from the Padres.
On the corners, it looks like its Glaus and Pujols, so that’s at least something to feel good about. Glaus could really be a bit more consistent at the plate, but his defense was much better than advertised. Now that he’s on natural grass, he appears he might hold up for a couple of years. Albert is simply the best. The biggest concern is his wounded elbow, but if he can overlook the pain, I suppose I can, too.
Yadier Molina looks pretty entrenched at catcher, but Bryan Anderson appears to have more offensive talent and may just be a year or two away. There’s probably a good chance he’ll be traded over the winter, but I really wouldn’t mind letting him be the backup next year. He can learn from one of the best and still get ten or twelve at bats a week.
The outfield seems crowded and a little questionable. Ankiel looks like the real deal, but for some reason, I’m still not sure I’m on board with him 100%. He should move to right field next year, assuming the highly touted Colby Rasmus finally makes his way onto the major league team. This means Ryan Ludwick will probably be in left. That’s a pretty good outfield. Schumacher, Duncan, Barton, Mather, and the rest can fight over the bench spots. For some reason, I have a feeling the Birds will at least make an effort to trade for another everyday bat out there. If they do, Rasmus may stay down on the farm another year.
Pitching is a crapshoot like it always seems to be for us. Wainright looks like the real deal. Wellemeyer appears that he can also hold down a spot. I have a fear that Chris Carpenter may be the second coming of Mark Mulder, but if he can straighten his injury problems up by next year, it’s the beginning of a rotation I could live with. I doubt we’ll make much of a play for Sheets or Sabathia, but I could see Derek Lowe or someone like him coming on board.
The bullpen? Motte looks really good, but he needs a secondary pitch he can throw for strikes. Perez could probably use that, too. The rest if sort of mix and match, but it’d be a huge boost if Josh Kinney can bounce back. Either way, it can’t be much worse than this year.
So the rebuilding year is over and we’ll soon see if it was worthwhile. There are a ton of question marks as the season ends and the front office needs to figure out exactly what they have and what they need. They probably don’t have much more time to get it right. The fan base appears to be a little restless.